Maximizing Your Inbound Phone Calls

Let it be stated up front: the first goal of a customer calling-in is NOT to set up payment arrangements. That comes later.

The first order of business is to ask for the full amount and if they can't or won't pay the full amount, then the goal is to get as much as you can today. No payment arrangements should even be discussed until a "good faith" payment is paid to get the ball rolling again. That is, they have been ignoring all your requests for payment (bills, statements, calls, reminders, etc) and they have lost some respect for you (that is why they think they can pay you late but pay their other creditors on time) so the first issue is to express that you mean business - and you do that by establishing that nothing else can be done unless you get a payment over the phone, or they bring by/mail a check today!

The 3 Goals of Your In-Bound Phone Calls

Goal #1 = Get as much as you can TODAY!
Goal #2 = If they don’t pay in-full today, then keep mentioning how much they owe, how past-due it is, and no matter what they offer, ask for either more money or to get it to you faster.
Goal #3 = Make short, solid payment arrangements

The Perfect Conversation…In 7 Steps

STEP #1 - Assume the Full Payment
Caller: “I’m calling about my account.”
You: I see here that you owe $______, how would you like to take care of that? We accept these CC’s...

STEP #2 - If They Don’t Pay-In-Full TODAY, then Say Amount, Age & Ask For More Money & Faster
Caller: “I cannot pay the full balance today.”
You: Ok, well, this is ____ days past due, so we need to do something today. You owe $______. How much are you short? (DO NOT ASK “How much can you pay?”)

STEP #3 - Lock-Down Solid Expectations on That Lump Sum Payment
Caller: “I’ll send you a check.”
You: Great, can get that to me today? (If not) When will you mail the check? And the check # is what?

STEP #4 - Create a Sense of Urgency to Get The Rest
You: Once we receive that, you will owe $______. How many days will it take you to get that to me?

STEP #5 - Let Them Offer Their Own Arrangements
Caller: “I need to make payment arrangements.”
You: Sure, what do you have in mind? (Then be silent and let them talk.)

STEP #6 - No Matter What They Say, Ask for More Money And Get It Faster
Caller: “I’ll send you $(Amount) on (Date) per month.”
You: (Sigh) OK, well, we will post the $(Amount), if that is all you can afford, however, I won’t be able to suspend your account from collections unless we can do $_____ over _____ payments.

STEP #7 - Repeat All the Details And Assign Consequences to Not Following-Through
You: Ok, so when I receive your first check, I’ll update your account, and as long as you keep making payments on time, you’ll continue to work with us and avoid collections. Fair enough? Ok, let me confirm our arrangements. You’re sending $(Amount) on (Date) and then $(Amount) on (Date)…

Miscellaneous Postures = Playing Good Cop/Bad Cop

SITUATION #1 - Dealing with the Collections Question
Caller: “I’m calling to find out why I’ve been turned over to a collection agency.”
You: I’m so sorry that happened to you. Don’t take it personally. We have a policy so that anyone who didn’t pay their bill after __ days, the account is then turned over to collections for processing. I’m (name). I can help you.

SITUATION #2 - Dealing with the Credit Question
Caller: “Has this account been reported to a credit bureau?”
You: No, not yet. If we can go ahead and take care of this today, we can tell the agency to go away.

SITUATION #3 - Dealing with the Sob Story
Caller: “It’s been so rough lately! My dog died, my car is totaled and my boss just fired me...”
You: “I am so sorry that happened. I can see why you’d be upset. What matters today is that you owe…”

SITUATION #4 - Dealing with the Late Fees and Collection Fees
Caller: "I noticed that you added $20 onto the original balance. What is that about?"
You: Oh yeah, that is the late fee/collections fee. (A lot of times that is all it will take and they will pay it.)
Caller: Well, do I have to pay it?
You: Well, of course. You have to pay late fees when you don't pay your rent or phone or light bill on time, right? (Again, that may be all it takes for them to pay.)
Caller: Well, I don't want to pay it.
You: Tell ya what, if you can pay this off today, I will waive the collection fee, if that fair enough for you?

SITUATION #5 - Dealing with Ranters
Caller: “Some jerks from your collection agency have been calling me at all hours of the night….”
Fact: TSI adhere’s to all local, state and federal debt collection laws. Moreover, many rant to get out of paying. So just apologize, be the good guy and go back assuming they are calling to pay the full amount.

SITUATION #6 - Dealing with Those In Verbal Collections
Caller: “I’m getting calls from your agency. Can I work something out with you?”
You: If you are getting calls from a LIVE collector, then I’m sorry, but the account is out of my hands now. You’ll have to call them at the number they gave you.

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